Ready To Soar – by Naomi Simson

Ready To Soar – by Naomi Simson

‘Turn your brilliants idea into a business you love’


Naomi Simson is the founder of Red Balloon, a ‘shark’ on Shark Tank Australia, and Australia’s #1 LinkedIn profile with over 2.4 million followers. This book is all about getting started in business, with chapters such as ‘the dream’ ‘the first steps’, ‘funding’ and ‘what you need to survive’.


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Here is a dot point summary of the book!




Why start a business?

  • I want to do what I love
  • I want to make a fortune
  • I want to live the dream
  • I want to be my own boss
  • My idea is brilliant – everyone else will buy it


Books intention is to help you on a journey to entrepreneurial freedom, of making your dreams come true – I want to help control your business rather than your business control you


As you  sit contemplating whether you will or won’t , the truth is you will never know the impact that you may have if you do start a business

If you have a go/ give it a crack, this book will give you a better chance


Part 1 – Possibility


Ch1 – The dream

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough”

  • Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, 24th president of Liberia


From dream to step 1

  • The harsh reality, though no matter how vivid your dream, it doesn’t necessarily make a good business idea


She read a list of what people were doing at age 25

  • Donald Trump just took the reigns of his fathers company
  • Clinton just graduates Yale
  • Arriana Huffington was a reporter for BBC
  • Mark Cuban was a bartender
  • Janine Allis was on a boat in the Meditarraneoun
  • Naomi just got back to Aus after travelling 3 years


So Naomi in her late 20’s was working for apple and saw her future as a businessperson climbing the corporate ladder. Having her own business didn’t occur to her


Random Quotes in chapter

“Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning” – Gloria Steinem, American activist

“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams” – Opera Winfrey

“A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships are for. Sail out to sea and do new things”

“When you play it too safe, you’re taking the biggest risk of your life. Time is the only wealth we’re given”



First step

To achieve any dream, you need to make the first step, then a second, then a third. They may be in a bucket list, a someday maybe list or a dream catcher – but one day that list needs to be tackled


“When you play it too safe, you’re taking the biggest risk of your life. Time is the only wealth we’re given”




It takes time to create something great, and it takes persistence and patience. But it also is about timing


Google adwords at the start would take about 5 cents to market what it takes for 50$ today



  • Naomi always had a sense of urgency about what she was up to. And many of the best business owners she knows had the inability to sit still and take the status quo as a given.



  • If you look at a baby you see a being of infinite possibility. What road will they take, who will they meet or what experiences may they have? Anything is possible for that child.
  • At what point do we start limiting what we can do? Is it because we get a big NO from a school teacher or parent? When do we become fearful of failure and stop taking risks?


The greatest asset of a founder..

  • Is to take responsibility – and know that you have the power to influence others, and maybe make a persons life just a little better


Some questions

  1. Is finding your passion essential to starting your business.
  • Many start on opportunity rather than passion. However over time they may fall in love with what they do
  1. What kind of life do you want
  • To be driven by passion is more likely to bring success than to be driven by money


  1. What excites you
  2. What are you good at
  3. What are you prepared to sacrifice
  • Family time, leisure time, fitness time, sleep time, travel time (at the start)
  • You can have it all, but not all at the same time. Set your own priorities, trust your gut and follow your heart


Ch 2 – The first steps

  • Steve Baxter on Shark Tank says, if you want his full time money he need your full time focus.
  • Some people have managed to start a side business while also giving their all to full time paid employment, but long term this is not sustainable, and ultimately not fair to your employer. The point is to consider when is the right time to give up the security of a pay cheque and the community connection that being part of a business delivers


Take time to consider the fundamentals of your business

  • What is your value proposition (what customer problem are you solving)
  • Who are you going to sell it to?
  • Who are the customers who have this problem?
  • Who else is already talking to these people?
  • What sort of relationship do you want with your customers?


Long before you give up your day job you need to work out a budget

  • There may be a few lifestyle adjustments that need to be made. Naomi took 10 years before she took a salary


It’s not for everyone

ABS statistics says in 2010-2011

  • 76% were operating by 2012
  • 59% operating by 2013
  • 50% by 2014
  • Many fail  and many go back to their career – at least they gave it a crack I say
  • For Naomi, the worst outcome was to lose a few years of life, a few years of salary, maybe the reputation as a marketer, but in the scheme of things these were all recoverable


“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great”

As yourself, what are you prepared to invest?


Clever No, Cunning Yes

Success as an entrepreneur will not depend on how clever you are

  • A study by ‘Founders Institute’, an American business incubator, entrepreneur training and startup launch program surveyed 35,000 people
  • There is no correlation between IQ and founder success
  • What had the biggest impact was taking responsibility for your actions as opposed to your IQ


The link between dyslexia and leaders

  • Henry Ford, Richard Branson, Kerry Packer, Steve Jobs, Anita Roddick
  • They are able to delegate authority and excel in problem solving and communication


Ch3 – Is the life of an entrepreneur for you?


“Wanna fly? You got to give the stuff up that holds you down”


It may be a good idea to choose a variety of life experiences before starting your own show

  • Learn to sell


Enthusiasm alone doesn’t attract customers. Some people assume because they are doing what they love and work hard, customers will flock to them

  • At the start people will say “that is such a good idea. But it didn’t mean they will buy something


Final checks to ensure you are not just being compulsive

  1. Double check is it viable
  • How will you earn revenue? Product sales, service fee, subscription, rent, lincencing, agency fees, advertising
  1. Look in the mirror
  2. Get some savings behind you
  3. Have you gathered a brains trust?
  4. Back up plan


Part 2 – Preparation

Ch4 – What you need to thrive


Don’t look at a leader and think they have it all sorted out. Their lives are not perfect. They might be going through financial crises, family problems, health issues. Comparing yourself to them, without the full story is not constructive


Finding your courage

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it”


  • Bravery is the ability to confront pain, danger or attempts of intimidation without any feeling of fear
  • Courage is the ability to undertake an overwhelming difficulty or confront pain despite the eminent and unavoidable presence of fear


It takes creativity

  • Creativity might come from doing something completely different to the problem at hand
  • We are all inventors of our own future. Creativity is at the heart of invention


Global financial crisis / scarcity

  • Scarcity may mean you need to innovate. If you don’t have the funds to get it done – you have to use your creativity rather than cash to solve a problem
  • As times get lean, it is clever and innovative people who will see a way forward.


Could your hobby be a business?

  • After all, where did those cupcakes come from?
  • Your hobby is the window into what you love, value and do most naturally, which could take you to a business idea
  • You don’t want to go from boring day job to another boring day job
  • Story of a guy who loved exotic ingredients and risked it all to start an online business. He walked away and no one got paid. He now hates exotic ingredients
  • Have a clear reality check before you dive in


Ch5 – What you need to survive

  • The greatest loss is the biggest lesson. But also – if business lessons can get too expensive then it is all over
  • Businesses are 1% idea and 99% execution


Old rules of work are being disrupted


Old rule – Commute into work ever day

  • Work is 9-5
  • Full time job with benefits
  • You work for money

New rule – work can happen anywhere

  • Your available at any time
  • You go from gig to gig, project to project, several employers at a time
  • You work for passion


Invest in yourself

  • Continually educating yourself is part of the entrepreneurial journey and I suspect that reading this book and doing the exercises in it are part of the investment for you


Writing it down – a shareholders agreement

As you start your journey you will rush in with many partnerships. You may agree on a handshake.

  • But many end up crying wishing they had written it down
  • It is also worth formalising the document by getting legal advice
  • Most family businesses don’t have a shareholders agreement – but it is crucial to have in those circumstances


Part 3 – Pitching

Ch6 – Funding


Sometimes an investor may be the worst thing for your business

If you are not aligned or have different expectations then difficulties and challenges may arise


Might be better to be ‘Great’ than go for growth

  • Rejecting the pressure of growth to focus on the more satisfying vision


What an investor could bring

  • It is lonely at the top
  • Focus
  • Innovation and ideas
  • Connections
  • Responsibility
  • Reputation
  • Faster faster
  • Bigger bigger (it takes as much effort to play a big game as a small one)
  • The best people “people first, strategy second (Jim Collins)”
  • Cash


All the funding options

  • Debt funding
  • Suppliers (pay them after you have received the income)
  • Factoring (external company takes over invoices)
  • Family or friends (be careful, don’t ask unless you know you can pay
  • Grants and government assistance


The funding ecosystem


Initial (seed funding – between 10K – 100K)

  • Business is in the idea stage
  • Crowd funding, family and friends
  • Maybe come up with a ‘non disclosure agreement’


Proof of concept funding 100K – 300K

  • Funds are enough to produce the prototype or MVP


Angel funding  100K – 2 mill

  • Provide funds (and often mentorship)


Series A – between 2 mill – 15 mill

  • Venture capital


Private equity, trade or IPO – between 10 mill and billions

  • Private equity is used for mature and robust businesses, well beyond the start up phase


Ch 7 – the perfect pitch

  • If you want someone else money, research who you are pitching to
  • Discover everything possible about the industry
  • Understand your numbers
  • Deal with details
  • Speak investor language
  • Don’t pitch on ‘hope’
  • Learn to tell an amazing story, filled with facts and numbers


How to pitch


  1. Get your headspace right – be yourself, don’t exaggerate
  2. Tell the customer story
  3. State what you want
  4. Show samples/demo
  5. Be relatable
  6. Allow time for feedback
  7. It isn’t time for negotiation
  8. Thank you



You have one life, one chance to give it a go.






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